I had the good fortune to interview Sara Vezza a couple of weeks ago for my Women in Wine series on Instagram. Sara is about 40 although she looks much younger, is the mother of four children all under the age of 12 I believe and runs not one but two wineries in Piedmont. She was such a breath of fresh air and we ended up speaking for a long time. The interview is in two parts, part one and part two. We spoke at length about her family. Her father is a long time winemaker at Marchesi di Barolo and her mother worked in the business until the 1990s. Their winery is Josetta Saffirio and they are located in Montforte D’Alba. The family has a long history both as farmers of the land and as wine producers. Sara got her start early and has been going strong every since. She is the fifth generation to produce wines and she now has her own label as well, Azienda Agricola Sara Vezza. Sara’s labels are the ones with the four symbols which represent earth, fire, water and air. Sara is innovative not just with her labels but also in her practices in the vineyard.
They are organic in the vineyard and she is moving towards biodynamics as well. Moreover she has a project where people can adopt a vine, come and work in the vineyard a few times a year and then they receive bottles of wine from their “vines.” She has more than one project in this direction and says she has about 100 customers a year who adopt vines and come to visit. As if all of this wasn’t enough, she also writes a blog for the site where she talks a lot about the terroir and customs and traditions of her land. I read an entry about the word ciabot and what it means to have a ciabot which is a kind of shack on your land and how the shack functions in a family’s daily life.
She also spoke to me about how when we got off the phone she was heading out to the vineyard with her headlamp in order to get the nasty girls, her words, off the vines. This meant she was going to pick caterpillars off of her vines. The word for this caterpillar is le nottue (apparently they are all female), like Torties (cats).
In addition to finding it a real pleasure to speak with Sara about her life and area, the wines were lovely. I found the Barolo from her winey long and lively with gorgeous black fruit and floral rose notes on the nose and palate. It had a restrained oak note and herbal hints too. I also found spice coming through on the second wave and a hint of black pepper. It was a beautiful, elegant version of Barolo from this special area.
Montforte d’Alba is located in the southeast of the region and is one of the 11 communes that can make Barolo and in particular contains the highest peak in terms of elevation. The soils and subsoils here are ancient with sedimentary and marine deposits. These ancient soils provide a perfect foundation for grapes to grow and flourish. The soils are called Serravalian or Helvetian. The area is known for producing wines with heft and structure. While I found them to have that, I also found them incredibly elegant with finesse and length.
Sara’s Barolo comes from the Ravera MGA. From my understanding about this particular MGA, the area has a special microclimate and as climate change makes the whole area warmer, this MGA will benefit because it is a tad cooler than some other areas. According to the maker of this map, Alessandro Masnaghetti, the area has Sant’Agata Fossili Marls and some sandstone. For a super detailed explanation of the Ravera MGA, check out this incredible site, Barolomga360. There’s so much to learn about Barolo.
I also tried the Barbera before our conversation. I found it racy with super lively acidity and a nice bitter note which I appreciate together with earthy flavors. I paired it with some sausage pizza and was very happy. I still haven’t opened the Nebbiolo and will write about that in another post. While we were on Instagram, an admirer of her wines from Sweden asked about her Rossese bianco wines. I have never had a Rossese bianco and was/am intrigued. Apparently Sweden is Sara’s biggest market which makes sense thinking about her attention to sustainability. My experience is that the Scandinavian countries are much more focused on these types of wines than other countries although the US is also going in that direction. Sara mentioned that she hoped the government would incentivize producers to go organic. She was one of the first producers to mention to me how it’s impossible to calm to be organic is your neighbors don’t also follow the same type of regime. This has been a topic on my mind for a long time so I was happy to see she agreed.
I felt really lucky to be able to chat with this new generation winery owner and am amazed at all she can do while being a mother to four children. I found their wines available here on wine-searcher.com. I can’t wait to travel again and visit Sara and her vines.